Among the post-9/11 concerns was the lack of communication among
law enforcement agencies. Six years later, that issue appears to
have not changed.
John Richter, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma,
told members of a gang enforcement panel on Monday that jurisdiction
and communication were significant issues when it came to law
enforcement units throughout the country.
He said the lack of discussion and coordination between law
enforcement entities would probably surprise most people.
"I think the public thinks we do that," Richter said of
coordination between agencies. "The dirty little secret in law
enforcement is we do it some of the time."
Richter said the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Gang Task Force was
an example of a coordination of efforts that worked well.
He said this group included officials from ATF, FBI, Oklahoma
City Police Department, DEA, Midwest City Police Department,
Oklahoma County district attorney's office, U.S. marshall's office,
This type of coordination is a key to gang-combating efforts,
Richter said. He said understanding jurisdictions, common
definitions, and methodology were instrumental when federal
officials are working with local law enforcement on gang issues. One
example he gave had to do with how "known to be affiliated" was
defined by a particular agency. He said understanding just what this
actually meant in the grand scheme was very important.
"That type of information is incredibly valuable," Richter said.
Also discussed by Richter were some of the tools used by federal
prosecutors when it came to the gang problems. He said conspiracy
charges were a major help in being able to arrest people for crimes
they weren't necessarily involved in at the hands-on level.
Richter said states didn't use conspiracy as often, in part
because it required judges to be willing to understand the concepts
of conspiracy. He said it was something opposed by defense counsel
and defendants as well.
"That just doesn't seem fair to them," Richter said.
Using grand juries as an investigation tool was also encouraged.
Richter said grand juries required the subject to fall under cross-
examination before going on trial, which locked in the testimony.
Richter also talked about the use of the Witness Protection
Program as a useful tool that states should consider when having
problems with obstruction of justice and intimidation. He said it
wasn't uncommon for incarcerated gang members to use outside gang
members to attempt to intimidate relatives or friends of witnesses
through drive-by shootings. …